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Bear cub killed on Route 10; believed to be from Mink’s litter

  • Photographed on April 7, 2020, Mink, a black bear spared by Gov. Chris Sununu in 2017 and relocated in 2018 to northern New Hampshire, had returned with three new cubs to West Lebanon, N.H., near the Mink Brook, about a mile from downtown Hanover. (Bryan Marquard photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/14/2020 3:56:58 PM
Modified: 9/15/2020 9:55:14 AM

WEST LEBANON — A black bear cub authorities believe was one of two still in the wild after the death of their mother, a sow called Mink, was hit and killed by an Advance Transit bus on Route 10 on Monday afternoon, authorities said.

The cub was struck around 1:30 p.m. after it “ran out onto Route 10” and into the vehicle between the Wilder Dam and Quail Hollow, Hanover Deputy Fire Chief Michael Hinsley said.

“All reports are the bear cub died instantly,” he said. “The bear cub is estimated to weigh about 30 pounds and the bear’s size and facial coloration matches the many photographic records of these cubs this spring and summer.”

Hinsley also said it was similar to a male cub that was trapped on Aug. 31, about a mile south of where the accident occurred.

Local and state wildlife officials have been trying to round up the two missing male cubs ever since Mink was found dead on a gravel bar along the Mascoma River in Lebanon late last month.

The cub that was rescued on Aug. 31 was captured at a home near the Wilder Dam on Route 10 in West Lebanon after officials used apple cider donuts to bait the trap. Nicknamed “Chief,” it is now at naturalist Ben Kilham’s bear preserve, where he said earlier this month, “He is eating fine and appears to be interacting with the other cubs.”

The fate of the third cub is unknown. A cub was also hit by a vehicle last Wednesday around the same location on Route 10 as Monday’s accident, but no animal was found after an extensive search.

“Bears can absorb a hard hit and survive, however, that obviously applies less to a small bear,” said New Hampshire Fish and Game Black Bear Project Leader Andrew Timmins. “Because we don’t know how hard the cub was hit last week, we lack the ability to predict its survival. Nonetheless, bad news today.”

Hinsley took the remains of the bear cub that was killed on Monday to Kilham, who said it did not appear to have been hit by a vehicle previously.

Kilham said he buried the cub and that “it was one of Mink’s.”

Given the possibility that it was the third cub that was hit last week, Hinsley said he is now “hopeful but not optimistic” that it will be found.

“I have learned, however, never to underestimate the strength and willpower of Mink and her cubs,” he said.

The search for the missing cubs has captivated the Upper Valley and sent volunteers into the woods, thanks in part to the popularity of Mink, who had roamed Hanover and Lebanon with several litters of cubs.

Hinsley said he would continue to monitor the area and work with residents and landowners, some aided by game cameras, in searching for the cub.

A necropsy indicated that Mink was at least 20 to 30 years old, and may have died of natural causes about a week before she was located.

One of her teeth is being sent to a lab to determine her age, which may take awhile. Because her body was so decomposed and had been scavenged by ravens, officials could not get a suitable tissue sample to send for a toxicology test to determine if something else contributed to her death, according to Kilham, who assisted with the necropsy.

New Hampshire state police also responded to a report of a young bear that was hit and killed along Interstate 89 in Lebanon early Monday morning.

Timmins said that bear weighed more than 100 pounds and was not part of Mink’s most recent litter.

News staff writer John P. Gregg can be reached at jgregg@vnews.com.




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